International Travel Tips- Survival Guide
This page I have a feeling will start off quite small and broad and build up into a full guide that will literally become your manifesto for traveling outside your home country.
The thing I love about the events we are putting on is that people join us from all walks of life, all locations, races, genders and ethnic background. That is a great thing, no-two of us are the same.
Many people have never traveled outside their home country before, this can be scary, uncertain and make you feel- well funny!
I remember the first time I left the country, I was early 20's, took a one way ticket to Germany and was stuck in the airport for 2hrs trying to figure out how to use a pay phone. I was the definition of unprepared- yet I survived.
As I traveled more, I started to catch onto things that would make my days of travel easier and I kept applying those things, testing new things until I created a way to feel comfortable with traveling and living out of hotels (which is usually one of the most uncomfortable things for people)
I of course bench tested these strategies, living out of a suitcase for months at a time both in the US and in other countries.
I want to share some of the core and fundamental pieces that I feel will help you feel as comfortable as possible while traveling.
There are 2 things we are going for here.
- Keep Stress Low- Staying Calm
- Feeling Comfortable while traveling
Now Keeping stress low is probably the most important thing, because the minute you loose your cool, fight or flight aka fear is WAY crazier when you're in another country. Like take the level in which you "loose your shit" in your home country and 10x that. That is what happens to you when you're in another country, the feeling is so much more amplified.
So keeping decision fatigue down is a big part in keeping stress low, when my brain fatigues its much easier for my mood to sway with the wind, take things personally and fall for ego bullshit.
Putting things in the same place, packing things the same way, creating systems and ways that you do things all help to keep decision fatigue down.
If you have to think of where you put your passport, wallet, room key and what suitcase has your underwear, cosmetic bag and pants each and everyday of traveling, you're wasting mental juice on dumbshit.
Next feeling comfortable is another thing to constantly have in the forefront of your mind because when I feel uncomfortable, my stress levels are higher naturally because the fear associated with uncomfort. Very few people have trained themselves to ACTUALLY strive on uncomfort and high pressure even though most people would proclaim they are great at it.
Comfort comes from many things, take your day-to-day now for example. You do certain things out of habit and striving for comfort, you drive a certain way to work, eat at the same few restaurants, eat the same comfort food when your capacity is stretched too much etc etc.
Awareness towards that will be huge as when you start to travel you can pack certain things and setup your days to echo a lot of the same comforts you have now, which will make you feel better while traveling.
1.How To Pack
Now I already covered how to pack your carry on, but I wanted to talk more about what to pack when its more than a carry on or if you want to travel with more.
- Look up the weather in advance, know what season it is in the country you're traveling too and obviously pack according to that. Weather.com will tell you that.
- Always pack more of the things that are harder to find in that country/place. *If its hard to find your supplements to stay on your morning routine then pack the crap outta that stuff and go buy clothes. (check conversion rates on currency and take a quick look at pricing for clothes online to get an idea how much you can really do this, if clothing is through the roof-price wise then balance this out) Try to pack in terms of Can't Live Without
- How ever you pack your bags, PACK THEM THE SAME WAY EVERYTIME YOU PACK UP! This lowers the risk of loosing things and saves on mental fatigue as you can habitualize the packing process. Checkout of hotels becomes easier
- Pack the small carry on bag to be your "live out of" bag that you can dip into daily to grab clothes and gear out of to live life. The bigger checked in bag should be all the back up clothes that maybe require ironing, de-packing, and gear you don't use/need as often. This stops you from digging through all your bags, everyday. Again saves time & limits mental fatigue
- Pack anything small that is a reflection of your current day-to-day in your life, like a book, journal, anything symbolic etc. This will help with comfort
Airports are one of the scariest pieces to travel as that is when the reality of shit starts to kick in. The "OMG I am really doing this" feelings come in.
Airports are one of the best 'patience' tests because they flat out test you. Luging around all that bullshit luggage, then standing in line to get your boarding pass and check anything, getting there in time, traffic on the way to the airport, fear you didn't give yourself enough time to get there and on and on add nausea.
Deep BREATH! Relax, take your time and guard keeping your cool like its fort knox!
If your luggage is heavy and too much to carry, get a cart! If anything becomes too much, seek to make it easier vs loosing it. That is why you also always want to give yourself plenty of time so you're never rushing!
Also remember almost ALL airports in this world have Wifi and its free, so that is always your first line of defense if issues come up. In your departing airport this is not an issue because chances are you have data on your phone. Once you arrive at your destination that is not the case.
Take a minute and get logged onto wifi, don't just yet call home as you may want to save you battery and online time to get things lined up if you need to.
*That reminds me, SHUT OFF YOUR PHONE DURING FLIGHT! It will drain your battery
Next all airports have free bus and shuttle systems to at least get you into the main city you just flew into aka the downtown area. Use that if you need too!
Most big hotels will have free shuttle from the airport to them so again plan for that.
3.Hotels & Lodging
I suggest having lodging setup for at least that first night you get in so you can come in relax and rest.
So many apps now adays I have no idea what most of them are. I personally use Hotels.com as they discount the rates and you get free nights when you build up enough stays. I suggest using some sort of booking site that offers points so you get rewards vs booking with the hotel direct, plus you will save money.
Cool thing is most hotels have shuttles at the airport so again you just need to find where their pickup/drop off is in the airport and make your way there when you arrive. Give them a quick call, that will sort that out.
Next option would be AirB&B which is where you rent peoples rooms/houses and its all a private thing. You will need to arrange transportation from hotel to that house though which can be taxi, subway, bus or Uber.
Flat out you will learn a city way faster and feel more comfortable by taking the subway/rail system, even more than the bus system. There is something about traveling through a city underground that makes it so much different.
I was able to get a really great grasp of Japan which is a really big city with complex underground in about a week when I was in Tokyo. I am confident and proficient enough to guide others now.
Google Maps app will be a huge help for anyone going to another country as it maps out driving, walking, train and bus in the city you're in as long as location service is turned on your phone. They also tell you rates for the trains to get from A to B so you don't guess how much credit you should buy at each station.
For me taxi or uber is last resort only after I am exhausted or just flat out tired from traveling, train is first, then bus.
Here is my list of must have apps...
- Google Maps- pulls in bus routes, train routes, car routes and walking. By far the best supported mapping tool we have access to on this planet.
- Google Translate- this has 2 new features both image and voice which make communicating in new countries that much easier. They can speak into your phone in their language and it spits out yours. Image allows you to take a picture of anything and it translates the text-FAST!
- Uber- They are pretty much everywhere now and integrated into Google Maps directly so you can get picked up that way. In Japan the taxi system is pipped into Uber so you can get a taxi through it.
- Hotels.com- This app allows me to book quickly on wifi, has my c/c stored already so in a few clicks I can book a room. This comes in handy when in a bind
- Airbnb- Same thing as hotels.com I have my info already programmed in there so can book a room (their instant book feature makes this even easier) fast!
- Skype & Skype Wifi- To jump on calls quickly in any country working from my skype credits. This is how you communicate quickly back home, and still proceed with business as usual.
There will almost always be a language barrier with you and those in the country you're visiting. That is where your ability to make new friends quickly comes in, that is something I always do, they help with local questions I have and I tell them about the rest of the world, help with English etc.
People in Asia are extremely well traveled, many of them know how to speak English- at least enough to communicate with them.
I usually install and use Tinder when I am in other countries, its used for different things in different places. In Japan its used as a friends app, not a sex/hook up app. Most women want to meet really cool people and have no expectations outside of that.
Expect this article to be updated over time yes and remember..
- Have a plan
- Stay COOL!
- Make shit easy